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moment have been utterly forgotten by them. An Indian preacher, some long time ago, said to an assembly of white people who were gathered together to hear him, « Though you will forget what I say, you will remember as long as you live, that you had heard an Indian preach.” It was even so. None of the assembly did probably forget this striking circumstance, though but few retained in memory either sermon or text.
The good we do is registered faithfully in our memories, but our reprovable deeds we consign to oblivion, by concealing them, as much as possible, from our own sight, as well as from the sight of others.
“Creditors,” generally speaking, “have better memories than their debtors." The former are never known to forget the bond; while the latter are very prone to forget it, or at least to forget its date, or the day of promised payment.
The doer of a favor or benefit, is apt to remember it a great deal longer than the receiver.
It evinces one of the worst and most treacherous memories, to forget friends, and even benefactors, in their adversity, when they stand in need of aid. The chief butler did not remember Joseph, but forgat him.
All of us inherit from nature better memories for injuries than for kindnesses. This lamevitable error of memory it deeply concerns us to remedy by all the means in our power.
A man of a truly great mind, who had been both obliged and disobliged by the same persons, magnanimously resolved to forget all that might diminish his gratitude, and to remember only what might increase it.
Of attaining a facility of utterance, or vocal expres
A MAN well versed in the knowledge of the world, made this pithy remark, “Words are things."
Not like inarticulate sounds devoid of meaning, they are
the instruments of an intercommunity of minds, and so are real things, highly necessary to be well understood; the knowledge of them being the first step toward almost all other knowledge.
Language is twofold, written and spoken; about the foriner, the generality of scholars employ much more labor and pains, than about the latter, notwithstanding that this, or colloquial language, is requisite for use almost every wakeful hour of our lives.
Doctor King, a first rate scholar of the last age, who had long been familiar with the most distinguished literary characters in England, observes, in his Memoirs, that he had been acquainted with three persons only, who spoke English with that eloquence and propriety, that if all they said had been immediately committed to writing, any judge of the English language would have pronounced it an elegant and very beautiful style: one of these was Doctor Johnson. Further he states, that among
the French and Italians few learned men are met with who are not able to express themselves with ease and elegance in their own language. This defect on the part of the English he attributes to the neglect of the study of their mother tongue; whereas the nations just named sedulously studied theirs.
To which it may perhaps be fairly added, that the partakers of the English blood are inclined to be constitutionally phlegmatic and humdrum; and conversing together much less than do some other portions of mankind, their colloquial faculties are much less improved by use and exertion.
Be that, however, as it may, it is clear that English scholars fall far short of perfectness in the language, though ever so learned and accurate in its theory, unless they are able to speak it on every occasion with promptness, propriety and ease. To arrive at this rare attainment, or even to approximate to it, would be well worth no sinall degree of labor.
The faculty of communicating thoughts with facility, is one of the inost precious faculties belonging to the humankind : : a faculty, which all who aspire to shine as lights in the world, should strive to acquire. Though a man have all knowledge, if unable to express what
he knows, it can be but of little more use than a lamp that is híd; while, on the other hand, the complete power of expression gives the utinost advantage to the powers of the intellect.
As a wrestler who can put forth his whole strength in a twink and at the nick of time, is able to lay upon his back a slowinoulded man stronger than himself, so a speaker or a talker who has words at will on all occasions, has it in his power to baffle one possessing more extent and depth of understanding, but embarrassed and faltering for want of words. Hence, one human understanding is often compelled to yield the palm of victory to another that is inferior to it, even when truth and right are on the side of the former.
How shall difficulties be obviated, and the thing in question be attained ?
The aforementioned Doctor King proposes, to youth, the method of eommitting to memory some of the finest passages of the English classics for colloquial use. But, with great deference to so high an authority, I must needs think that this method is very exceptionable.
The practice of echoing in conversation the express sentences and phrases of celebrated authors, besides being pedantic and fulsome, tends to enfeeble the under. standing, how much soever it may strengthen the memory. It is like leaning on a staff in walking; the staff, however substantial and beauteous, either finds the body inert and clumsy that leans much upon it, or makes it so.
Speech is the vehicle of thought, and approximates toward perfection in proportion to the ease and celerity with which it conveys thought. This depends very much on judicious practice; as a theoretical knowledge of the rules of any of the arts is insufficient without practice, so it is with respect to language. Though one had a critical knowledge of all the rules of English grammar, and could give the meaning of all the words in this language, still he would be awkward, both in speaking and writing the language, till practice had made him ready and expert. It is by practice that one gets the aptitude of conforming to the rules of grammar without effort, or even so much as thinking of them; and it is by practice we learn so to connect and arrange
words that each shall be in its proper place, and the fittest for the place which it is put in.
To combine, and express with readiness, the thoughts represented by language, requires not only a sufficient knowledge of the meaning of words, but also the faculty of having them always at hand; in which case one can ever express distinctly whatever he conceives distinctly otherwise he hesitates, however clear are his ideas. In this fast respect lies the principal difficulty with many: though ideas or thoughts are clear in their minds, and they have a good knowledge of words, their speech is rather faltering than fluent, because the proper words do not spontaneously occur at the moment they are wanted.
There is perhaps a method to remove this great difficulty, in part, if not altogether. A thoroughly-practised artisan, whose trade requires a great variety and frequent change of tools, spends not a moment in studying which tool he shall take up next; the proper one presents itself without any effort at selection. Now words are the sools of intellect. If thoughts be only distinct in the mind, there will be no need to ponder and search for words to express them; which, on all occasions, will be in the tongue, ready to be uttered, if they are enrooted in the memory. A good speller is not puzzled for letters, nor how to place them : only make the requisite words as familiar to the mind as the letters of the alphabet, and they will come to the speaker whenever wanted, as letters to the speller; both occur habitually.
To effectuate this, let one write down, alphabetically, from a dictionary, the roots of as many well-selected words, as, in fine hand, would cover about three sheets of paper, and with his eye run over them occasionally till they become as familiar as the alphabetical letters. It would take up not much time, and inight be done in vacant hours; and perhaps the consequence at length would be, a copiousness of words, ready for use, it were, offering themselves whenever wanted.
None that I know of has made this experiment, except one; and he, too far advanced in age to 'expect to receive benefit from it to himself, other than that of obviating, or partly obviating, the dreadful effects of
an inveterate malady of an oblivious character. This very imperfect experiment, I am well certified, resulted in his full belief that, had he bit upon it in his juvenile years, and tried it thoroughly, it might have helped him considerably to the faculty of ready expression, or fluency, of which he has ever felt the need.
Soine few are gifted with a happy fecundity of words and volubility of tougue, while the minds of others, though equally intelligent, are slow; and it is only these last who need the nostrum, which I have ventured to prescribe, notwithstanding its liableness to ridicule.
A comment upon the fable of the Invisible Spectacles.
“Jove," as an ancient fable relates," having ordered that pleasure and pain should be mixed, in equal proportions, in every dose of human life; upon a complaint that some men endeavored to separate what he had joined, and taking more than their share of the sweet, would leave all the sour for others, commanded Mercury to put a stop to this evil, by placing upon each delinquent a pair of invisible Spectacles, which should change the appearance of things, making pain look like pleasure, and pleasure like pain, labor like recreation, recreation like labor."
If, hy the Invisible Spectacles, we are to understand the illusions which inislead the judgment in regard to the true comforts and interests of life, it is pretty certain that no kind of spectacles is in so general use.
In the days of youth, almost every thing is seen through these false glasses, which many wear all their lives, in spite of age and experience.
One of the most needful of all arts, is the art of computing It is deemed indispensably necessary in all kinds of business. And hence we send our children to school, to learn the use of figures, and how to cast up accounts, and foot them to a nicety. One who has no knowledge at all of the nine figures of arithmetic,